Bharat Bandh called by Samyukt Kisan Morcha – the coalition of 500 farmer organisations – on Tuesday has received a broad-based support with as many as 24 political parties, trade unions, students, youth and women organisations across the country backing the strike call.
What prompted the farmers, who have been protesting at the borders of Delhi for last 12 days demanding the repeal of three controversial farm laws and dropping of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, to call for the bandh was the government’s inability to address their concerns despite three rounds of talks in a week.
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee – an umbrella organisation of 250 farmer groups and part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha – criticised the government for announcing it will not withdraw the three farm laws, despite so much opposition from the farmers across the country. “It shows that the government is adamant and rigid in its determination to coerce the people of India, and that it is not open to any criticism and suggestions.” It also alleged that all this while it was wasting everybody’s time “by pretending to hold talks with an open mind.” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters here, avoided attacking the farmers directly, but blamed the opposition, particularly the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, as “shameful, deceitful and duplicitous” for joining the farmers’ agitation against precisely the reforms that they had been advocating in their years in government.
‘Government to blame’
Among the political parties that came forward to support the bandh were Congress, Left parties, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, DMK, JMM, Shiv Sena, Gupkar Alliance, Shiromani Akali Dal, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal among others. Trinamul Congress, on the other hand, said it supports the agitation, but not the bandh. The Congress party said the government would be squarely responsible for the inconvenience caused to general public by the bandh as it has brought the matters to this pass. Addressing the media, Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar said: “Please do not follow America. The government should not become a lobbyist for the corporate.”
Farmer associations non-governmental organisations working in primary sector in Telangana and Karnataka said they will participate in the bandh. In Gujarat, on the other hand, farmers are divided over supporting the bandh, but the Vijay Rupani-led Gujarat government has imposed the Section 144 on Tuesday prohibiting assembly of more than four persons across the State. There will not be any bandh in Kerala as the local body polls are on in the State.
A large number of trade unions, students, youth women orgnisations and intellectuals and prominent personalities including Bollywood actors have come forward to support the bandh.
With inputs from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad bureaus